The Slovenia Times

Changes to 2019 budget remain an unknown after coalition meets


Šarec said that the leadership of the five coalition parties had concluded that the 2019 supplementary budget, which the government start drafting in the new year, should be balanced.

The prime minister recently said he tied the survival of the government to the adoption of the budget as the cabinet struggles to keep public finances in balanced position against the demands of public sector unions for higher pay.

Having already promised higher transfers to municipalities and higher welfare payments, the government is now in talks with trade unions on demands that are estimated at hundreds of millions of euros.

Asked whether the government had found the additional funds it needed to secure next year, Šarec said "we haven't found anything yet. You cannot look for that kind of money just like that, because the state of the budget does not allow us to throw money around."

The prime minister added that the partners had also been acquainted with the progress of talks with the public trade unions, but did not say how much money the government would earmark for civil servants. He was also mum about other budget items.

Ahead of the meeting, the Social Democrats (SD) talked about the need to shorten waiting times in healthcare, while the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) called for the situation of pensioners to be improved. The latter could be the open issue Šarec was talking about.

What makes things even more difficult for the government is the fiscal rule, which is enshrined in the Constitution and obligates the government to run a primary surplus in boom years.

The Finance Ministry, which is calling for the respect of the fiscal rule and securing long-term sustainability of public finances, has already warned that the measures which increase expenditure need to balanced out with other measures.

The coalition thus needs to find an agreement on measures which would reduce the overall expenditure for 2019 and list them in changes to the budget implementation act, which parliament should pass by the end of the year.


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